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good evening. it's a public health crisis of massive proportions. lead in the water supply in flint, michigan. people breaking out in rashes, losing hair. the doctor who sounded the alarm was ignored. but not anymore. abc's alex perez is following the investigation in flint tonight. >> three, two, one -- >> reporter: it was supposed to be a moment of triumph. cheers erupted as the then-mayor of flint, michigan, officially turned off the water feed from detroit. >> here's to flint! >> hear, hear! >> reporter: and began pulling its supply from the local flint river. little did they know that this cost-cutting move would have devastating consequences. >> cheaper than detroit but about at what cost? health, people dropping over dead, getting sick? >> clean water! >> reporter: now almost two years later, flint is in a state of federal emergency. >> our children should not have
that they're drinking in american cities. that's not something that we should accept. >> reporter: president obama releasing $80 million in aid to michigan to help flint repair its water infrastructure. as national guards continue to cart in thousands of bottles of water and filters. but on that day back in april 2014, as the mayor pressed the button, no one knew what they had put into action. just weeks after the complaints began pouring in about discolored and foul-smelling water running from the taps. mysterious ailments. this 2-yearld would become the face of this public crisis, suffering severe rashes, hair loss. at the time his mother had no idea what it was. she was not alone. >> my son jordan, he's been in the e.r. twice, early summertime with rash all over his body from the water. today we went in for high fever, cramping, sore throat --
luck were starting to turn up at emergency rooms all over flint. >> jaden was seen today for a severely sore throat, very swollen, very red. >> reporter: long-time residents jacob and his wife had taken to bathing their young children with bottled water. >> you hear of all these legionnaires disease or the dermatitis. all these different things that are happening more and more frequently. nobody's accountable. no one's been prosecuted. no one's served a penalty for this. except for the people of the city of flint. >> reporter: for almost two years complaints from the city of 100,000 residents went unanswered. but independent test results were beginning to provide a chilling answer. high levels of the lead in the water. >> the lead is an irreversible neuro toxin. once it is in your body the damage is done.
director of pediatrics at hurley medical center in flint, was one of the first to sound the alarm. >> what we noticed was that after the water switch, the percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels doubled in the city of flint. in some neighborhoods it tripled. >> reporter: when she released her findings in september 2015 -- >> right away we were attacked. we were told we were wrong, that we were unfortunate researchers, that we were causing hysteria. >> reporter: two weeks later officials could no longer ignore the signs and officially declared the water unsafe. this week the fallout. as over 270 pages of internal e-mails and documents came to light. it's a damning look into how officials ignored blatant warning signs. some of those signs were uncovered by this man, epa investigator miguel del toro. >> i never imagined this would happen in the first place. >> reporter: he was one of the first to warn about lead in the water after resident leann walters called in a complaint in early 2015.
what she found was extremely water. water that he said was causing walters' children's hair to fall out in clumps. >> i think that if it weren't for leann, this may have gone a lot longer. >> reporter: after talking to the state department of environmental quality del toro made another stunning discovery. the river water being fed into the taps was not being treated with anti-corrosion agent, as required by law. >> inconceivable that you would allow a system with lead service lines, a large system, not to have the treatment in place. >> reporter: in the spring of 2015, del toro warned the agency that the state was understating the lead levels in the city's water. writing in a memo, staffers have essentially downplayed or ignored warning signs. and that the whole town may have much higher lead levels than the compliance results indicated. >> you give them that warning, seems like they blew you off. did they not know what they're doing? >> i don't know what their decision process was on this.
state officials dismissed multiple warnings, spending months denying the lead contamination until october of last year. >> sad to see what's happened >> shouldn't have happened? >> shouldn't have happened. director of the department of environmental quality, wrote in an e-mail, i believe now we've made a mistake, corrosion control should have been required from the beginning. admission met with public anger in a city where more than 40% live below the poverty line. residents are asking if they're being left behind. >> if this was a highly generated economy and it was booming here, then yeah, it wouldn't have made it past three months. >> reporter: flint's water supply has since reverted back to detroit's lake huron but the damage has been done. an independent task force conducted a review of the state's handling of the water crisis and found the deq's response to the public to be "one of aggressive dismissal, belittlement, and attempts to
the head of the epa's regional office in chicago which covers michigan has resigned after governor rick snyder officially apologized to the residents of flint. >> i say tonight as i have before, i am sorry and i will fix it. >> reporter: the apology coming just hours after attorneys filed a class action lawsuit against the governor and state and city officials. dr. hannah says apologies don't mean that much to a mother wondering what will happen to her child. >> she's traumatized about the cons consequences of lead. but they're also traumatized about what they've been through the last two years. an entire betrayal of governmental agencies. >> reporter: or to a city that will have to live with the consequences. >> you expect when you turn on your water, you expect it to be drinkable. and you've been told for almost two years that it's safe. so there's significant trauma in the community. we are definitely trying to instill hope. >> reporter: for "nightline,"
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unleash the power of dough. give it a pop. speaking as a brand-new puppy owner -- labradoodle, thanks -- it's easy to obsess over your pets making sure they have the best food, snow boots, and behind the ear scratches. what happens when your love isn't enough? for overanxious, highly stressed pets, some pet owners say antidepressants could be the answer. here's abc's david wright.
work day, morgan hates to keep her partner waiting. >> racing out the door, running to get the subway. >> reporter: it's not so much that he's legal just, he just misses her more than he should. >> there is a part of me that feels guilty just because i know that when he gets stressed, he is very distraught. and it's hard to watch. >> reporter: unconditional love isn't always healthy. >> hi! oh! i know, i know. i know, it's okay. >> reporter: morgan accepts that about hachi, a puppy who suffers from a very real, very human disorder. separation anxiety. >> hachi digs at the floor. and he digs at the door. he bites the molding. this is reallial in an effort to get out of the apartment. >> reporter: and like an anxious human, there's powerful medicine that can help. that's right. this melancholy mutt is on doggy
prozac for puppies. hachi isn't alone. nearly 3 million dogs in the u.s. are on anti-anxiety meds right now. let's not even get into cats. >> the problem is that just like with us, we often turn to the drugs as the first line of treating the problem. i think that's a mistake. >> reporter: researcher and writer laurel brakeman, author of "animal madness," says our pets have deeper emotional lives than most of us give their credit for. what sort of emotional complexity is there for a dog? we like to think that the dog is wagging its tail because he's happy to see you when you come home. when part of you sits back, maybe it's just because he's hungry. >> we're like that too. wide receiver i happy when we sit down in a restaurant because we're about to eat? or because we're with good friends? it's safe to say that other animals, particularly dogs can fearful. >> reporter: in a world of pampered pooches where's the line between compassionate
>> it's so exciting, look! >> reporter: in "legally blonde," el woods was too present for her dog. or how about "best in show." >> go to the hotel and get busy bee! >> my name is an marie and this is albert einstein. >> reporter: for ann marie it's not about pampering her pooch. mental health. >> i might take him for a walk, he's so nervous he looks from right to left, his tail is down. yes, you can do it! he'll just stop and freeze. just be trembling very, very strongly. i mean, it makes you want to be able to give him a drink or something. >> reporter: after a series of failed behavioral treatments,al lert was diagnosed with extreme anxiety. and the vet prescribed prozac. >> i knew that prozac really helped people. and i knew albert really needed help. >> reporter: but that diagnosis wasn't cheap.
upwards of $5,000. in fact, consumers nationwide are estimated to spend more than $7 billion on pet meds every year. more than ever before. >> ready? come on, let's go. let's go. >> reporter: we joined albetter for a walk in nearby central park. >> come on. albert, he thinks we should be going home. he doesn't want to go away from home. >> reporter: check out his body language. >> you see how his tail is down? that's not a happy dog. >> we're going to present our closed fist with treat -- >> reporter: across town hachi is meeting with trainer erika. for, okay. >> reporter: the prozac gives him extra little help to succeed, according to his owners. >> you still have to do the behavior modification, you still have to be extremely diligent and dedicated. because prozac's not going to solve the problem. >> you'll see he's just howling. >> reporter: morgan and jason show us hachi in full-blown panic attack. he's been alone for five hours. >> he's pacing.
he's clearly stressed. >> reporter: this video, watch as hachi opens the refrigerator door. >> that's not half as bad as what he can get. and that's, you know, that's very stressful. >> he's howling even with his head in the refrigerator. poor thing. >> heartbreaking, isn't it? >> heartbreaking. it's so sad. he definitely has separation anxiety. and perhaps he could benefit from medicine. >> reporter: prescription pad pet ownership isn't for everyone. >> i also adopted my dog through best friends. >> reporter: sabi is a rescue dog from a war zone. i met him on assignment in lebanon back in 2006. this dog was owned by a saudi family who was here on vacation in beirut when the war broke out. they left, gave the dog to the doorman, and the doorman just put him on the street. everybody's different but i wouldn't dream of giving my dog prozac and he's been through a war zone.
says it's not for everyone. >> this is a brain-altering medication. that's a really scary thing. do i want to alter my dog's brain? yes, when it causes him so much fear and anxiety that he has to dig at a door and try to let himself out. >> i think that the medication is oftentimes a last-ditch effort before bringing a dog or a cat to the pound. so if you use medication as a way of keep an animal in a home, it's a fantastic final option. >> reporter: at least for now the drugs are working for hachi. >> it's tremendously helped. prior to putting him on this medication, he could not be alone for more than two hours. now the seven, eight hour mark. >> reporter: albert, while skittish, is finally able to make it around central park. >> okay, all right. >> reporter: a spoonful of sugar -- >> good boy. >> reporter: and perhaps a dab of peanut butter helping the medicine go down and helping the whole family relax. i'm david wright for "nightline"
still to come, the first big-time blizzard of the year pummeling the east coast. gearing up for the snowpocalypse. and when her stepson went missing, she faced public scrutiny. for the first time she's sharing her side of the story. >> people can say what they want about me. my purpose is to find my son. huh. introducing centrum vitamints. a brand new multivitamin you enjoy like a mint. with a full spectrum of essential nutrients... surprisingly smooth, refreshingly cool. i see you found the vitamints. new centrum vitamints.
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our broadcast from philadelphia for the first time. >> reporter: winter may have come late this year for the east coast but tonight it is coming out swinging. a massive blizzard spreading across several states. an onslaught that shows no signs of letting up any time soon. here in philadelphia in our storm chaser suv the snow is coming down at a steady clip, making the roads sloshy and slightly slippery. the police lights you see are removing cars along these emergency routes so they can get plowed eded eded eded plows in to clear these roads. muns of car crashes and three deaths have been reported in the region so far. in tennessee people pushing cars off the road slick with snow and ice. governors up and down the eastern seaboard are declaring states of emergency. >> don't go on the roads. be smart. >> reporter: urging people to stay home unless they absolutely need to go out. washington, d.c. could get up to
make this the biggest snowfall in 90 years. the city closing businesses and even public transportation to deal with the crisis. airports are full of stranded travelers tonight, with more than 8,000 flights canceled throughout the weekend. earlier today, grocery stores were packed with last-minute preppers. and weather forecasters showing the worst may be yet to come with predictions of increasingly heavy winds and many more inches of snow for the northeast tonight. for "nightline," eva pilgrim, philadelphia. finally tonight, a look ahead. it was a missing persons case that captivated the country. 7-year-old kyron horman disappeared seemingly without a trace from his oregon elementary school in 2010. since that day his stepmother, terry horman, has been living under a cloud of suspicion. now five years later she's breaking her silence. >> did you have anything to do with his disappearance? >> no. none.
that question, but it hurts my heart to -- to even be asked. >> reporter: for the first time horman is speaking out about her failed polygraphs, her whereabouts that fateful day, why she was sexting another man during the investigation. >> let's face it. your stepson's still missing, you're in the midst of all the scrutiny, and you're sexting with some random guy. >> sure. >> it doesn't look good. >> no it doesn't. but -- i'm not going to make an excuse for it. i'm going to own up to it. >> reporter: why terry says she's still fighting for kyron and for the daughter she says she hasn't been allowed to see for all these years. >> either you're a very convincing liar, or a grave injustice has befallen you. >> i'd go with the latter. people can say what they want about me, i don't care. my purpose is to find my son, to get my daughter back, to get my order. >> so much more of that interview monday. thanks for watching abc news.
>> why the oscar nominee says he may skip the show. then what kylie jenner hasn't been able to doll for four years. >> and tyrese gibson dishes you, it's men. >> these are the private issues people talk about at home. we've got zach efron and vanessa hudgens's lost audition tapes. >> millions of you read it. now watch us. ok! tv, your entertainment news source starts now. welcome to ok! tv. i'm sonia isabelle with all offer top headlines coming to you from new york city. it's start with the hollywood wrap. >> a mega music star, mega engagement news. >> congratulations. >> new video of newly engaged mariah carey all smiles showing off her 35 carat diamond stunner on that finger. it's estimated worth a jaw